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posted: 7/5/2012 10:52 AM

Area teens earn Girl Scouts' Gold Award

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  • Katelyn Beck

    Katelyn Beck

  • Laura Chytrowsky

    Laura Chytrowsky

  • Elaine Eggert

    Elaine Eggert

  • Lindsay Krachtus

    Lindsay Krachtus

  • Annika Mikkelson

    Annika Mikkelson

  • Jessie Moravek

    Jessie Moravek

  • Victoria Ridge

    Victoria Ridge

  • Gina Romero

    Gina Romero

  • Panagiota Tsipas

    Panagiota Tsipas

  • Cali Flanagan

    Cali Flanagan

  • Nicole Friesema

    Nicole Friesema

Submitted by Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois

Fourteen local young women were among the 22 Girl Scouts in northern Illinois who earned the Girl Scout Gold Award in 2012. They are: Lindsay Krachtus of Aurora; Cali Flanagan of Cary; Nicole Friesema of Elgin; Victoria Ridge of Geneva; Elaine Eggert of Montgomery; Laura Chytrowsky of North Aurora; Annika Mikkelson of Oswego; Gina Romero of South Elgin; Katie Melanouris of Spring Grove; Jessie Moravek, Panagiota Tsipas, Katelyn Beck, and Nicole Tummillo, all of St. Charles; and Katy Crain of Woodstock. The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn.

• For her Gold Award Project "Wheels of Hope," Lindsay Krachtus collected and refurbished 30 bicycles, which were then donated for client use to Mutual Ground, an organization focusing on safety, healing and prevention for victims of domestic violence/sexual assault and their families. Says Krachtus, "I thought this would be a great project because when women and children come to Mutual Ground, they have nothing, much less a car. With Aurora being easily accessible by bicycle, I know the women and children will be appreciative of these bicycles."

• For her Girl Scout Gold Award Project, "Cary Clean Up," Cali Flanagan addressed the issue of littering in her community. She took action by organizing local students to take to the streets and clean up an area everyone uses. She also educated students on environmental issues and taught them the importance of community service. In her own words, "Litter was an issue on the streets we cleaned because they are routes to school and get a lot of traffic. The older students led the younger ones in cleaning up. The goal was to teach the younger students the importance of community service in a fun way."

• Nicole Friesema chose "READ White and Blue" for her Girl Scout Gold Award Project. She created a reading-themed mural at Lily Lake Grade School that depicted two children reading and thinking about where the knowledge they have gained can take them. The mural encourages children to read and do what they love. Says Friesema, "I have a passion for art, and this opportunity provided a way I could make a difference in some kids' lives."

• "The Easter Basket Project" was Victoria Ridge's Girl Scout Gold Award Project. She organized students from her high school and elementary school to collect items for and created over 160 baskets for the children at the St. Peter Food Pantry and 50 for Mutual Ground, an organization focusing on safety, healing and prevention for victims of domestic violence/sexual assault and their families. Says Ridge, "I knew the families of these children could not afford to buy extra things like Easter baskets. I thought I could make and distribute them so they would know other kids in their community care about them and want them to be happy."

• Elaine Eggert chose the Oswego Senior Center Holiday Concert as her Gold Award Project. After hearing about budget cuts at the Oswego Senior Center, Elaine recruited volunteer student band members and organized a holiday concert to bring generations together through a fun-filled day of music. Eggert says, "I chose this project because I wanted to entertain these important members of the community. Attendees loved the live music from high school students because most of the programs at the center do not involve young people."

• For her Gold Award Project "Kicks for Kids," Laura Chytrowsky also worked with Mutual Ground. The organization needed new clothing and backpacks for displaced children starting school, so Laura collected hundreds of items for them to distribute. About this project, Chytrowsky says, "I was able to give each child at least two new outfits for the school year. It was nice to help out the families at Mutual Ground, to give them something to look forward to for the new school year. I chose this project, because I thought if I was in that situation as a child, I would want someone to do that for me."

• Annika Mikkelson worked on "Beautifying Downtown Oswego with Art and Flowers" as her Gold Award Project. Mikkelson chose to enhance the appearance of downtown Oswego by working with the village and a local garden store in painting the existing downtown flower pots and rooting the various flowers planted there to last for years to come. Mikkelson says, "I have always been really interested in art, and the flower pots in the downtown area were out of shape and beat up. I saw this project as an opportunity to save the village money on replacing the pots and to have art displayed in the downtown area."

• Gina Romero chose "Shining Teens" as her Girl Scout Gold Award Project. She created "stress kits" for teens and redecorated a room at Shining Star, an advocacy center for children, complete with a "graffiti wall" where teens can be creative. "I enjoy helping children and teens that are less fortunate than I am and encouraging them to never give up on their dreams," says Romero.

• For her Girl Scout Gold Award Project, "Recycle!," Jessie Moravek worked to reduce solid waste and increase environmental awareness in St. Charles Unit District 303. She worked with district officials to implement a program replacing plastic foam cafeteria trays with reusable plastic baskets in all district cafeterias. Moravek says, "I believe it is very important to protect the environment. Through this project, I was able to create a community where being environmentally friendly is easy. I helped students get into the habit of being eco-friendly who will hopefully carry that throughout their lives."

• For her Girl Scout Gold Award Project, "Eat Healthy and Keep Moving," Katie Melanouris conducted a workshop geared toward teaching proper eating and exercise techniques to children in her area. "The obesity problem for kids in the United States has become a huge problem, and I wanted to make a difference. My goal was to teach kids how to eat healthy and exercise as part of their daily lifestyle," says Melanouris.

• Panagiota Tsipas chose creating a "This Could Be You!" mural as her Girl Scout Gold Award Project. Tsipas organized a group of Richmond Elementary School students to paint the mural that was then placed in the St. Charles school. She talked to the students about the importance of staying in school and continuing on to college. Says Tsipas, "This project was to help inspire interest in college education and build self-confidence and expression through art. I learned that I am a good leader, a good planner, and that I can work with obstacles and under pressure!"

• For her Girl Scout Gold Award Project, Katelyn Beck chose to create a video of called "Inspiring Women of St. Charles" featuring inspiring women from the St. Charles area. The video is available at the St. Charles library and historical society. Beck says, "My project addressed multiple issues. There is a lack of strong female role models for many girls in St. Charles. Also, there isn't much information about the inspirational women who helped to shape our community. The video showcases 10 strong females who made an impact on St. Charles, including an athlete, a philanthropist, a nurse, several teachers, a world-famous model, our first female major, and a 69-year park district employee."

• Nicole Tummillo's Girl Scout Gold Award Project, "Holiday Happenings and No School Mondays," provided day care for children whose parents didn't have convenient child care options. She planned fun activities to keep the kids engaged and had food available for them to eat. "Without a program like this, parents would have difficulty arranging day care for their children on no school Mondays" says Tummillo.

• Katy Crain worked on "Driver Awareness and Preparedness" as her Girl Scout Gold Award Project. Crain focused on new driver awareness, the effects of distracted driving and car seat safety checks, and she arranged to have a driving simulator available for participants to use. Says Crain, "Through the years of being a Girl Scout, I have learned many lessons that helped me earn the highest honor in Girl Scouting. While earning the Girl Scout Gold Award, I was able to learn things about myself that I didn't know before. Overall, I had lots of fun getting people involved, and getting knowledge of driving safety out to my community."

These youth were all honored for their accomplishments on June 10 at a Young Women of Distinction event hosted by the Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois

The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest award in Girl Scouts, and focuses on a 14- to 18-year-old Girl Scout's interests and personal journey through learning leadership skills, career exploration, self-improvement and service. For many girls, these skills, organizational proficiency, and sense of community and commitment that come from "going for the Gold" set the foundation for a lifetime of active citizenship.

Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois serves nearly 20,000 girls and 6,000 adults in parts or all of Boone, Carroll, Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Jo Daviess, Kane, Kendall, Lake, LaSalle, Lee, McHenry, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside, and Winnebago counties.

Through the Girl Scout Leadership Experience, girls from kindergarten through 12th grade are engaged in discovering themselves, connecting with others, and taking action to make the world a better place. Girls develop leadership potential by participating in age-appropriate activities that enable them to discover their values, skills, and the world around them. Activities in science and technology, business and economic literacy, and outdoor and environmental awareness provide girls with opportunities for fun and friendship while fostering the development of leadership skills and self-esteem.

To find out how you can become part of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience, call (800) 242-5591, or visit

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